Recognizing the importance and difficulties surrounding children’s opportunities for expression in times of crisis, the United States Department of Education has released a compilation of resources, several designed specifically to offer parents tips on facilitating children after traumatic events. All resources are free and are available directly from the United States Department of Education’s Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools: Technical Assistance Center.
Opportunities for expression
Even as adults struggle to cope and find words after crisis events, it remains pivotal that children, too, are guided in opportunities of expression that begin their young journeys toward acknowledging, internalizing, and appropriately coping with the tremendous emotions and repercussions of crisis events. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has indicated, “It is so important to give children the chance to talk, write, or draw to express their emotions. Please create the time and space for them to do that.”
Tips for talking to children
From the Health Resources of SAMHSA, the Mental Health Services Administration, the United States Department of Education supplies “A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers” that offers tips for talking with and helping children and youth cope after a disaster or traumatic event. Acknowledging data from the National Commission on Children and Disasters’ earlier Report to the President and Congress that alerted to possible “long-lasting harmful effects” from emotional strains after a traumatic event and identified “adult support and reassurance” as a “key to helping children through a traumatic time,” a tip sheet for parents is offered. The pivotal tips provide guidance to parents and caregivers of children on responses after crisis events. The tips reach into learning the common reactions of children, how to respond in a helpful way, and how to recognize when to seek support for a child.
With wise recognition that age-specific guidance and tips are necessary, the USDOE offers links to specific Parent Tips aligned to best fit preschool children, school age children, and adolescents. Registration is not necessary to obtain the resources, and the materials are available in English, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Available for direct PDF download are the following, free materials:
Parents are not alone
In times of trauma, adults can encounter difficulty in knowing how to talk with children and how to allow sensitive expressions. Self-expression and opportunities to share, internalize, and receive guidance are critical to the human spirit. Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center indicates, “Encourage your child to ask questions now and in the future . . . Like adults, children are better able to cope with a crisis if they feel they understand it.” Dr. Schonfeld carefully states that if an adult feels overwhelmed, be sure to “look for some support from other adults before reaching out to your child” and indicates “If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, contact his or her pediatrician, other primary care provider, or a qualified mental health care specialist.”
In the vulnerability of youth, the struggles of young grief and trauma create stress that demands listening, responsiveness, and caring. Expression opens the door for sharing, intervention, guidance, and coping. In the dark shadows of an event such as 2012’s Newtown tragedy, the nation is reminded both of the vulnerability and infinite value of its children, for as U.S. President John F. Kennedy stated, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
Find the take in this article to be helpful? National and Local Education as well as National and International Travel materials come from a husband and wife team, who travel extensively as published writers and photographers. One is an experienced scientist with a doctorate in Material Sciences and background in pharmaceutical and optics research. The other is former Vice President of GKE, who served as a US Web-based Education Commissioner during the Clinton administration, and was a former US National Technology & Learning Teacher of the Year.
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